Sunday, June 28, 2015

Trade Recap: 2015 NHL Draft, Who Went Where

The trades came, as expected, around the start of the 2015 NHL entry draft.  The Boston Bruins took the lead making three significant trades to stock up on draft picks.

Boston General Manager Don Sweeney got things started the day before the draft began by trading the negotiating rights to forward Carl Soderberg to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick.  Soderberg was coming off a three-year deal with the Bruins, paying him $1 million in his final season, and was set to become a free agent on July 1.  Soderberg subsequently signed a five-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche at an average annual value of $4.75 million.  His deal with Colorado includes a full no-trade clause for the first two seasons, and a limited no-trade clause for the final three seasons.

Two more trades were made quickly by the Bruins and Sweeney.  First, they traded defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames in exchange for the number 15, 45 and 52 overall picks in the 2015 NHL draft.  Although Hamilton (who was the number nine overall draft pick in 2011) can become a free agent on July 1, Flames' GM Brad Treliving is confident that they will work out a contract with Hamilton.  With the 15th overall draft pick they received the Flames, the Bruins wound up selecting forward Zachary Senyshyn.

The Bruins then continued to make a splash in the 2015 NHL draft pool by trading scoring forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the number 13 overall draft pick in 2015, goaltender Martin Jones and defenseman Colin Miller.  The Bruins re-loaded on defense with the 13th pick by selecting blueliner Jakub Zboril.

The Buffalo Sabres made waves of their own in the trade market by picking up goaltender Robin Lehner and forward David Legwand from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the 21st overall draft pick in 2015.  It was almost inevitable that the Senators would trade a goaltender, and Legwand was necessary to sweeten the pot and pry the first round draft pick from Buffalo.  With that 21st overall draft pick, Ottawa wound up selecting forward Colin White.

If that trade didn't make big enough headlines for the Sabres, their next deal certainly did.  Buffalo traded for forwards Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn from the Colorado Avalanche by sending forwards J.T. Compher, Mikhail Grigorenko and defenseman Nikita Zadorov as well as the 31st overall draft pick in 2015 west.  Joe Sakic didn't seem to think that the Avalanche would be able to get to where the numbers were for O'Reilly when he becomes a free agent in 2016.  The Sabres, who are in re-building mode, get a player in O'Reilly who other NHLers admire, and who can help lead their young core and in particular, number two overall draft pick Jack Eichel.

The New York Islanders, who had a dearth of draft picks in 2015, decided to gain some picks by trading defenseman Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for the 16th and 33rd overall draft picks in 2015.  Reinhart played mostly in the AHL this past season, but proved he can set his teammates up by notching 15 assists in 59 games, to go with 7 goals for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  So the Oilers shored up the defensive corps for the future, and the Islanders were able to select some young prospects.  With the 16th pick, the Islanders selected centerman Mathew Barzal , who notched 57 points in 44 games for Seattle of the WHL last season.  After adding a playmaker, the Islanders once again moved up on the draft board by flipping the 33rd overall pick as well as their 72nd overall pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 28th overall selection spot.  The Isles used that 28th pick to take forward Anthony Beauvillier who most recently played with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.  The left-shooting winger scored a whopping 42 goals in 67 games last season, which gives the New York Islanders further offensive hope.  Tampa Bay used the 33rd pick they received from New York to take centerman Mitchell Stephens from the OHL.

The New Jersey Devils certainly need to strengthen their offense and many think they did just that by trading for Kyle Palmieri from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for the 41st overall pick in 2015 and a third-round pick in 2016.  The former 26th overall selection in 2009, Palmieri played in 57 games for Anaheim last season, picking up 29 points, 14 of which were goals.  That goals-scored total would have been good enough for 4th on the Devils last season.

The Ducks would wind up flipping the 41st overall pick they received from the Devils to the New York Rangers along with left-winger Emerson Etem in a trade for left-winger Carl Hagelin, the 59th and 179th overall draft picks.  That 41st pick, which at one point belonged to New Jersey, was used by New York to select forward Ryan Gropp, who was a teammate of Mathew Barzal (the Islanders' selection at 16th overall) Newith Seattle in the WHL.  Gropp is a big player who scored 30 goals in 67 games for Seattle last season.  Hagelin had 35 points in a full sked of 82 games for the Rangers last season, at 26 years-old, and is coming off a two-year deal with a $2.25 million cap cost and is slated to become an RFA on July 1.  The 23 year-old Etem, a native of California, had 10 points in 45 games for Anaheim last season, while also playing in 22 contests for the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL and notching 21 points.  Etem's cap hit was well under $1 million last season, and he is also slated to become a restricted free agent on July 1 of this year.  With pick number 59, Anaheim selected forward Julius Nattinen from Finland who was a member of his nation's U-18 World Championship squad which won the silver medal.   At pick number 179, Anaheim took goaltender Garrett Metcalf, who most recently played in the USHL.

The Vancouver Canucks, with Ryan Miller as their number one netminder, traded Eddie Lack to the Carolina Hurricanes for the 66th overall pick in 2015 and a seventh-round pick in 2016.  The 27 year-old lack did play in 41 games for Vancouver last season, with a .921 save percentage and 2.45 GAA.  The net is Miller's now in Vancouver and they obviously wanted to free up some salary space while gaining prospects.  Lack is under contract through 2015-16 at $1.3 million and a $1.15 million cap hit.  The Hurricanes net will now consist of Lack sharing time with starter Cam Ward who is under contract through 2015-16 as well, at a salary of $6.8 million and a cap hit of $6.3 million.  Ward played in a hefty 51 games for Carolina last season, notching a 2.40 GAA and .910 save percentage.  With the 66th selection in the 2015 draft, the Canucks took defenseman Guillaume Briseois who had 24 assists in 68 games for Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL last season.

In a somewhat minor trade, the Dallas Stars sent a seventh-round pick in 2015 to the San Jose Sharks for the negotiating rights to former Stanley Cup winning netminder Antti Niemi.  The Stars have Kari Lehtonen in goal and under contract through 2017-18 at a $5.9 million cap cost.  Lehtonen played in 65 regular-season games each of the past two seasons for Dallas, so maybe Niemi will give him some relief and add to his future durability.  Niemi, who made $4 million last season with a $3.8 million cap hit is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  That seventh-round pick, the 193rd overall was used by the Sharks to select tall goaltender John Kupsky.

A draft day largely filled with goaltender trades continued as the New York Rangers traded their stellar back-up Cam Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers along with a seventh-round draft pick in exchange for draft picks 57, 79 and 184.  The Rangers knew that Talbot's services would be in demand and with all-world netminder Henrik "The King" Lundqvist on their squad, they could afford to part with Talbot for draft picks.  Talbot, who is set to earn $1.45 million in 2015-16, is slated to compete with Ben Scrivens in net for the Oilers this season.  The Rangers, who some thought mortgaged their future by trading away so many draft picks in their recent push to the Cup, have quickly started to re-tool by acquiring draft picks.  New York turned draft pick number 57 into two picks by trading that selection to the Washington Capitals in return for picks 62 and 113.  While the Caps used number 57 to select physical blueliner Jonas Siegenthaler, the Rangers used the first pick in the third round (number 62) to select forward Robin Kovacs out of Sweden.  Kovacs had 17 goals in 52 games in the Sweden-2 league this past season.   With pick 113, the Rangers selected forward Brad Morrison who hails from a family of NHL athletes.  Going back to the second draft pick they received from the Oilers for Talbot, pick number 79 overall, the Rangers took hulking defenseman Sergey Zborovskiy from Russia, who most recently played with Regina in the WHL.  New York would use pick 184 to try and re-load at their backup goaltender position, at least for now, by selecting Adam Huska who most recently tended net for Green Bay of the USHL.

The goalie trades weren't quite done yet.  The Carolina Hurricanes, who you'll recall acquired Eddie Lack earlier, traded Anton Khudobin to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman James Wisniewski.  Khudobin who is under contract through 2015-16 is slated to be counted at $2.25 million against the salary cap for next season.  He played in 34 games for the Hurricanes this past season, spelling Cam Ward.  While that role will now be filled by Eddie Lack, the Hurricanes bolster their blueline with Wisniewski who had eight goals and 26 assists with time spent on both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks last season.

The Edmonton Oilers, who selected phenom Conor McDavid with the number one overall draft pick, continued to remain active in the trade market throughout the draft.  The Oilers sent defenseman Martin Marincin to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Brad Ross and the 107th overall draft pick. The Oilers then took that draft pick and along with prospect Travis Ewanyk and traded both to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Eric Gryba. Gryba, who had 12 points in 75 games for Ottawa last season, is set to earn $1.3 million this coming season with a $1.25 million cap hit, after which he will become a free agent. And with pick number 107, Ottawa selected defenseman Christian Wolanin from the USHL.

Although it seemed like the goaltender trades wouldn't stop during the draft, the last goaltender to be traded was Antti Raanta who was sent to the New York Rangers, presumably to fill the void left by trading Cam Talbot, by the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Ryan Haggerty.  One of the Finnish crop of quality netminders, Raanta is set to earn $800,000 with a $750,000 cap hit for this coming season, after which he will become a free agent.  Raanta got into 14 regular season games for Chicago this past season, logging 792 minutes and putting up a 1.89 GAA and .936 save percentage.  Haggerty, a native of Connecticut, played in 76 AHL regular season games for the Hartford Wolf Pack last season, notching 33 points.  Haggerty is under contract through next season at a cap hit of $925,000 after which he will become a free agent.

With the final official trade of the draft weekend, the Phoenix Coyotes traded center Sam Gagner and a conditional draft pick in either 2016 or 2017 to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Nicklas Grossmann, and if you believe it, the contract of defenseman Chris Pronger.  Gagner, the former number six overall draft pick in 2007, garnered 41 points in 81 regular season games for the Coyotes last season.  The 24 year-old pivot will earn $3.4 million next season with a $3.2 million cap charge, after which he will become an unrestricted free agent.  The 30 year-old Grossmann had 14 points in 68 games for the Flyers most recently, and will carry a $3 million cap hit for 2015-16 after which he becomes a UFA.  Chris Pronger's contract carries a ~ $4.9 million cap hit through 2016-17, of which only $525,000 is salary for the next two seasons.  Since the Coyotes were struggling to get to the cap floor, this trade is a win-win for both teams.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ottawa Senators Trade of Lehner: Analysis

The Ottawa Senators have traded forward David Legwand and goaltender Robin Lehner to the Buffalo Sabres in return for the 21st draft pick in the 2015 NHL draft, as reported by TSN.  With the Senators having three viable starting goaltenders, a trade of one was almost an inevitability.

Here's how the contracts of the three netminders the Senators had lined up:

  • Robin Lehner - Signed to a three-year contract in 2014, expiring in 2017.  Average annual value of $2.225 million; $1.5 million in 2014-15, $2.025 million for 2015-16 and $3.15 million in 2016-17
  • Craig Anderson -  Signed to a three-year extension in 2014, worth $12.6 million.  He was still under contract for one more year through 2014-15, with the extension kicking in for 2015-16 and going through 2017-18.  He will make $4.75 million for 2015-16 and 2016-17  and then $3.1 million in 2017-18.  
  • Andrew Hammond - Signed to a three-year extension in 2015, worth $4.05 million.  Hammond will be paid $1.35 million per season through 2017-18.  
With three goalies under contract at more than $1 million per season through at least 2016-17, there was very little doubt that one of them would be traded.  General Manager Bryan Murray didn't have much choice with the glut of talent in net, he knew a trade was imminent.  And he also knew he wouldn't be satisifed with what he got in return for one of his netminders.  

In the end, he had to give up not only a netminder, but also a durable forward who put up 27 points last season.  Now, what Murray got in return is nothing to sneeze at.  A first round draft pick in the NHL entry draft is a very valuable commodity. And again, Murray and the Sens did have a glut of goaltending.  

Whether Ottawa management knew that Andrew Hammond would turn into such a formidable goalie can be debated.  The statistics that Hammond put up for the Senators towards the end of the 2014-15 NHL season however, cannot be debated.  The 27 year-old put up a stellar 1.79 goals-against-average to go with a formidable .941 save percentage.  With that performance, and at the comparative salary rate he was going to get, how could Murray not ink him to an extension?

Now what the Senators do with the draft pick they received from Buffalo, the 21st overall selection, will go a long way in determining how good of a trade this turns out to be.  Recall two seasons ago that the New Jersey Devils traded their ninth overall draft pick in exchange for goaltender Cory Schneider.  While the Devils have not been able to produce on offense as they would like to, Schneider's performance has continued to be strong since the trade.  And Vancouver, while settling a goaltender "controversy" with the trade, also gained a strong prospect in Bo Horvat (25 points in 68 NHL games with Vancouver).  

How this trade is viewed will ultimately be determined by the performance of the player Vancouver selects at number 21 overall, as happens with all player for draft pick trades.  One thing is in very little doubt however:  Murray had to make a goaltender trade.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Chris Chelios Assistant Coach for Detroit?

Chris Chelios may be joining the Detroit Red Wings as an assistant coach on Jeff Blashill's staff according to a recent report by The Hockey News. Chelios was very complimentary of the Red Wings new head coach recently. Chelios praised Blashill's "structure and accountability" and that he "knows what makes guys tick". (Jeff Blashill was officially named as the head coach of Detroit recently, as was reported this weekend).

Chelios played much of the latter part of his legendary NHL career with the Red Wings, and is no stranger to the organization.

Leafs to Keep 2015 Third Round Pick

As part of the compensation required when the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Mike Babcock, with permission while still technically under contract with the Detroit Red Wings, the Leafs need to provide the Wings a third round draft pick in one of the next three years. The Leafs will be retaining this year's selection according to SportsNet, which means they will forfeit a third rounder in either 2016 or 2017. The Leafs third round selection this year will be number 65 overall as things stand now, the fourth pick in the third round.

Although the Leafs do not yet have a general manager, and were denied permission to speak with New York Rangers' assistant GM Jeff Gorton as reported in the Toronto Star, it seems likely that team president Brendan Shanahan will be comfortable leading Toronto into the July 26 draft, rather than rushing the GM hiring process.

Monday, June 8, 2015

NHL Snap Shots: Sather, Capitals Development Camp, Stevens

There has been consideration given by New York Rangers' General Manager Glen Sather to stepping away from his current role, as reported in the New York Post.  With the Rangers making another strong push towards the Stanley Cup, there may be some external pressure to elevate talent existing within the organization.  As Katie Strang reported in a recent article for ESPN, there have been advances made by other NHL organization towards the current assistant General Manager Jeff Gorton.  In that light, it's entirely possible that Sather could also move into a similar role as Lou Lamoriello recently did with the New Jersey Devils, and allow Gorton to move into the GM role.  In additional Metropolitan Division news:

  • The Washington Capitals will hold their development camp between July 7 and 11 at the team's practice facility in Arlington, as reported at the Washington Post.  The team will most likely not announce which prospects will attend the development camp until after the draft this month, as noted in the Post.  
  • Scott Stevens would like to remain with the New Jersey Devils in some capacity, even though he was not chosen as their next head coach, according to Rich Chere at  Stevens was co-coach of the Devils at the end of last season, along with Adam Oates, and with current team president Lou Lamoriello on the bench as well. 

Flames Sign Marcotte

The Calgary Flames have signed undrafted free agent forward Louick Marcotte, as reported by ProHockeyTalk.  The Flames pick up a player here who scored a hefty 76 points in 63 games, 36 of which were goals, with the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL last season.  Marcotte will most likely play initially with the Stockton Heat of the AHL.  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Detroit Red Wings to Name Jeff Blashill Coach This Week

Jeff Blashill will officially be named the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings this week as noted at Michigan Live.  The 41 year-old Michigan native has been at the helm of the Red Wings' AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins for the past three seasons, winning the AHL Championship once, and never winning less than 42 games in a regular season.

Blashill had coached briefly as an assistant with the Red Wings under head coach Mike Babcock.  After that brief stint he headed to Grand Rapids to become their head coach for 2012-13.  Most recently, Blashill coached his Grand Rapids Griffins to the conference finals of the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs (the AHL playoffs).  The Griffins would eventually bow out to the Utica Comets in the Western Conference Final Series.

It was noted in a May Detroit News article that if the Red Wings are looking to maintain their "winning culture" they could "scarcely do better" in hiring Jeff Blashill as a head coach.  Blashill made it clear that he desires to be the head coach of the Red Wings as quoted by Sports Illustrated:

"Yes, I want to be the next head coach of the Detroit Red Wings," Blashill told reporters on Thursday. "An ultimate goal of mine was to become an NHL head coach; obviously, within this organization, it's a great organization to be part of."

In an interesting article at Kukla's Korner, Blashill is quoted on his coaching style.  Although he notes that he does not have a prescribed coaching style, he has heard it said that he is "hard but fair", and he is in agreement with that sentiment.  

Friday, June 5, 2015

Maple Leafs Sign Two

The Toronto Maple Leafs have re-signed defenseman T.J. Brennan to a one-year deal as reported by ProHockeyTalk. The blueliner who was originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2007 spent most of last season in the AHL, appearing in six NHL games for the Maple Leafs while notching an assist.

It was also reported that the Maple Leafs inked forward Andreas Johnson to a three-year entry level contract. The 202nd overall selection in the 2013 NHL entry draft, Johnson played most recently with Frolunda HC in Sweden where he garnered 35 points in 55 games last season.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Jeff Petry Signs Six Year Deal with Montreal

The Montréal Canadiens have signed defenseman Jeff Petry to a six-year deal worth $33 million as reported on the Hockey Inside / Out blog. The 27 year-old blueliner was acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers earlier this year. In 19 games with Montreal this past season, Petry notched 7 points.

Petry's deal with Montreal includes a no trade clause. And it seems like Petry wants to remain with Montreal for quite a long time. As quoted on the team's website, Petry stated after the signing:
“It didn’t take long to see myself being a part of this organization for a long time.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Washington Capitals Sign Forward Mitchell

As reported in the Washington Post, the Washington Capitals have re-signed forward Garrett Mitchell to a two-year deal.  Mitchell was drafted in 2009 by the Capitals and has played with the AHL Hershey Bears for the past four seasons.  He notched eight points in 64 games last season, while accumulating a hefty 121 penalty minutes.  Under the two-way deal, Mitchell will earn $575,000 in 2015-16 if in the NHL, and $105,000 if in the AHL, per the Post report.  

John Hynes, New Jersey Devils Head Coach

The New Jersey Devils will be hiring John Hynes as their new head coach as reported at The New Jersey Devils will reportedly announce Hynes as their head coach at noon on Tuesday. Tom Gulitti notes that Hynes will become the NHL's youngest head coach at 40 years old. It was also reported that the Devils are working out compensation in the form of a draft pick in return for Hynes' services with the penguins. Under the CBA a third round draft pick in one of the next three years will need to be awarded to Pittsburgh.

Originally from Rhode Island, Hynes played hockey collegiately at Boston University. He most recently was the head coach of Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins team where he has had great success. In each of his five seasons at the helm, his team has won more than 40 games.

With the Devils' hiring of Hynes, there is only one more head coach left to be named in this season's coaching carousel. The Detroit Red Wings, who saw longtime head coach Mike Babcock head to Buffalo, are widely expected to name Jeff Blashill, their current AHL affiliate head coach with the Grand Rapids Griffins, as their new NHL head coach.

Monday, June 1, 2015

New Jersey Devils Close to Selecting New Head Coach

The New Jersey Devils are closing in on selecting their new head coach, according to a recent report at  Former Tampa Bay Lighting head coach Guy Boucher will not be in the mix according to the report, because the window of time that his current team, SC Bern, had allowed for him to accept an NHL coaching position has closed.  Three coaches mentioned as serious candidates for New Jersey's head coaching position include Nashville Predators' assistant Phil Housley, Washington Capitals' assistant Todd Reirden, and Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins' head coach John Hynes who has worked with New Jersey's GM Ray Shero previously.  

Canadiens Sign Two

The Montreal Canadiens have signed forward Gabriel Dumont and defenseman Morgan Ellis, each to one-year contracts, according to a recent press release by the team.

Dumont, a 24 year-old pivot originally selected by the Canadiens in 2009, saw three games of action with the team this past season, while primarily playing for their AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs.  With Hamilton, Dumont scored 20 goals with 25 assists in 66 games.  He added a healthy 88 penalty minutes.  According to The Hockey News, Dumont is a good checking forward who can agitate.  He can also score as shown by his most recent season in the AHL.

Ellis, a 23 year-old right shooting defenseman taken in 2010, split the 2014-15 season between the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL.  He had 26 points in 39 games for Wheeling, and nine points in 27 games for Hamilton.  Ellis is tabbed as a good all-around defenseman with a "hard accurate point shot", according to Hockey's Future.  

Rangers Trade Walcott to Lightning

The New York Rangers have traded defenseman Daniel Walcott to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a seventh-round draft pick in the 2015 NHL entry draft, according to this Rangers' twitter post..  In this rare trade during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Rangers re-acquire the draft pick that they sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning as part of the trade where they acquired Martin St. Louis.  The 21 year-old left-shooting blueliner spent most of last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada where he put up 41 points in 54 games.  Walcott was originally drafted 140th overall by the Rangers in 2014.  According to a scouting report at Hockey's Future, Walcott excels at moving the puck as a defenseman.  

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